It took me two (2) years to finish the draft of my first book. I started writing it in early 2012 and finished the final draft in late 2013. By that time, it was ready for publication. It was edited by my good friend Butch, the same guy who introduced me to all the wonders of Lord of the Rings and helped me dive deeper into literature and writing.
Earlie, another good friend of mine, was working then as the publishing coordinator of a small startup publisher connected to our church. I filled out the book proposal form. It was approved and went to the press towards the end of 2013. By early 2014, it was out. Since my publisher was a startup, it didn’t have a good distribution network yet. So selling the book became a challenge.
Nonetheless, I learned so much from the process. More than that, it gave me confidence in my ability to write and to assemble my material into a publishable format. Although I have published a book, I continued to write and looked for ways to expand the materials that could eventually be used for a book.
To help sales of my first book, I started a blog for Filipino young professionals. That blog is now dead but it also helped me keep writing. I was writing a blog post at least once a week.
My bigger break also came in 2014. I published my second book. It’s a book on leadership for young people entitled “May Powers Ka to Be #SuperEpic.” I sent my first proposal to my publisher, OMF Lit, 2 years before it was published. My original proposal was not accepted. But I received some constructive feedback. I got to work, did some revisions in the content and packaged it for the target audience.
It takes more than a year to publish a book.
In late 2013, I got a notice that my proposal was accepted. As always, I wrote like crazy, revised the weak parts as noted by my editor.
To give you an idea of the timeline, here’s how it worked:
May 2013 – I sent my initial proposal to the acquisitions editor of my publisher
May to June 2013 – Wrote the first two chapters of my manuscript and sent it to the acquisitions editor
June 2013 – Sent a revised proposal, sent the first 2 chapters of my book
August 2013 – Received notice that my book proposal was approved! Yay!
Sep – Nov 2013 – Write, write, write!
Nov 2013 – Sent the full manuscript to my editor!
Dec 2013 – May 2014 – revision, consultation with my editor
Sep 2014 – The book was launched at the Manila International Book Fair.
The full process of writing a book really takes more than a year. From the conceptualization, writing, editing, packaging, printing, and marketing, the process could easily take two years.
For young people who want to write and publish a book, here are a few tips.
Start writing NOW!
Write whenever you can whether you feel inspired or not. When you accumulate enough material, you will see a theme emerge from your writing. Write about what you know; write about your experiences; write about your joys, your pains, your problems. When you do that, you realize that there are people who will resonate with what you write about. As you write, you get to know yourself more deeply and you also get to know the audiences that you want to write for.
Tailor your writing for your target audience.
As you keep writing, think about who you’re writing to. When I wrote my “Superepic” book, my publisher talked with me about writing it in conversational Taglish. That’s because the target audience is young people. The book wasn’t very long either–a bored teenager could finish it in one sitting.
So get to know the people you would like to write to, know their language, their interests, their problems, and their lives.
Ask your friends to serve as your beta readers.
Ask some of your friends to read what you write and give you constructive feedback. Give them a license to be honest and blunt with you. They are your friends and honest feedback can help you grow. If this doesn’t work, publish your writing on a blog, or on Facebook then take note of people’s reactions. That’s the advantage of the internet age we are in–feedback is immediate and you get to learn more quickly.
Read a lot.
Don’t just write about your experiences. Read the authors that you want to emulate. Read the kinds of stories that you enjoy, that helps you understand life better. Do this intentionally, not just for leisure but to develop an ear for language, for the coming together of words, sentences, and paragraphs.
Start a list of your favorite authors in your head. Or better yet, ask for recommendations if you don’t know where to start. Don’t just go for what’s popular. Ask around for some difficult materials that challenge you.
Do a “review of related literature” and pay attention to trends.
Every year, hundreds of books are being published and marketed to people around the world. Visit a bookstore and see the types of books out there. What topics are being covered by authors these days? What are the trends? For a while, books from wattpad became really popular, then you have books that are a collection of status updates and snippets like books by Ramon Bautista and even by the late Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.
Notice the gaps. What are the topics that are not being addressed in the market? Find your niche.
As you review existing books and literature, pay attention to the ‘gaps in the market.’ what are important topics that nobody is writing about? Could you address that topic probably given your talents, skills, and position? For example, in the Christian publishing market in the Philippines, there is a lack of books that address the issues faced by women in their 20s and 30s.
By using this process, I was able to develop the idea of writing about online tools and platforms and develop good online practices for youth and adults. The result was the book “Get a Life Online” which was published by OMF Literature in 2015.